The study of art history involves historical analysis and the interpretation of culture, providing a broad background in the humanities. This program is designed to prepare students for graduate work in art history, the humanities, or related fields.

The major provides a strong liberal arts background and stresses the development of critical visual thinking, close reading, academic writing, and research skills. 

Why Iowa?

Iowa was one of the first universities in the nation to unite studio art and art history in one school. The School of Art and Art History continues to offer both programs, reflecting its philosophy that artists benefit from the study of artistic traditions, historians learn from personal experience with the creation of art, and teachers need a firm foundation in both. Iowa also offers a BA in Art.

Iowa also pioneered the concept of artist as teacher. As an art or art history major, you’ll work with faculty members who have national and international reputations and whose art and publications are included in collections all over the world.

At Iowa, you’ll find yourself surrounded by art. You’ll encounter sculptures everywhere on campus, and you may study in university buildings designed by well-known architects, present and past. You’re sure to visit the Iowa Memorial Union, where you’ll see Iowa's Stanley Museum of Art exhibits and countless works by university artists, including your professors.

Admission Requirements

Students interested in this major need to meet the requirements for admission to the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

 Information

Major(s)
Art History
BA
Minor(s)
Art History
Tracks
Iowa Idea
Global and Interdisciplinary Connections
  Teaching Licensure
  Honors Courses
  Four-Year Graduation Plan
Admission Process

Careers and Outcomes

Iowa graduates have a 95 percent job/grad school placement rate within six months of graduation. Our Pomerantz Career Center offers multiple resources to help students find internships and jobs.

Many graduates pursue careers in their degree specializations, such as commercial or graphic designer, conservation or museum curator or administrator, art educator, public artist, or community art center coordinator or instructor.

Others go on to graduate study or enjoy success in areas such as art therapy, art appraisal, restoration, architecture, theater design, medical illustration, studio art, or disciplines outside of art.

Student Opportunities

In addition to more than 500 Student Organizations, Iowa students choose from more than 100 Study Abroad Programs and multiple Undergraduate Research Opportunities.

  Scholarships

The University of Iowa provides a variety of scholarships to eligible undergraduate students through the Iowa Scholarship Portal. Scholarships are available to first-year, transfer, and currently enrolled students. For additional details on scholarships for your program of study, check directly with the department or college.

The Office of Admissions and the Office of Student Financial Aid are great resources for students seeking scholarships.

Course Work

Art history majors choose from two specialized tracks: 

The Iowa Idea Track continues our century-long tradition of combining the study of art history with hands-on creation of art in studio art courses. The Iowa Idea of bringing artists and scholars together in an academic context became the model for numerous art and art history programs across the nation, training artists and art historians within a united studio and liberal arts environment.

The new Global and Interdisciplinary Connections Track encourages students to earn a double major in art history and another humanistic discipline, allowing majors to tailor their studies and explore their interests across academic departments.    

Students learn techniques of formal analysis and methods for interpreting the meaning of paintings, sculpture, and architecture. They explore the relationships between art objects and society and examine the patterns of patronage. Course work includes:

  • Two courses in Western art and culture
  • A course in African or Asian art
  • Undergraduate art history seminar
  • Eight additional art history courses
  • Writing About the Visual Arts
  • Basic Drawing
  • One course in a studio art program: ceramics, drawing, jewelry and metal arts, painting, printmaking, sculpture, design fundamentals

All students who wish to earn a bachelor's degree in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences must complete the GE CLAS Core requirements. 

See Art and Art History in the UI General Catalog to learn more about this degree and graduating with honors.